Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Decades ago Dennis invited a colleague for lunch at our place in the country, the place we call Paradise. Entering the house, the fellow, a collector of Navajo rugs and other costly art, looked around and declared, “You don’t have anything valuable here.”

Over the ensuing years Dennis and I have enjoyed that remark and taken some twisted pride in it. Our treasured possessions wouldn’t sell for a nickel at auction, but we don’t care.

Who would pay for a basket full of birds’ nests?

Who would care to purchase a basket of shells collected on the Galveston beach before oil spills and hurricanes destroyed most of its life forms?

Who would want to own two skeletonized baby snakes that Oz found dead in our basement? (Before the mites in my old glass-front bookcase ate all their flesh, they clearly were a baby ring neck and a baby copperhead.)

Now that I have realized that we have too much stuff, I’ve been looking at everything in our house with a critical eye. Of what use or value are birds’ nests and seashells? Of what use are snake skeletons, one broken?

These precious objects and their many companions are a history of our 40-plus years in this beautiful place. They commemorate the years gone by. They are the milestones of our rural lives together.

I love and therefore value every relic. They are valuable to me and I can’t throw them out. Oh, I know they have to return to the earth sometime, but please, not just yet.

Copyright 2015 by Shirley Domer

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Return to Paradise

Returning to Paradise after five months in Tucson we were greeted by flowers galore. The forsythia and narcissus were blooming, and the ornamental crabapple tree was glorious.

In the memorial my favorite tulip was in its prime.

Elm tree must have had a banner year bloom because the deck was littered with elm twigs that snapped off from the weight of seeds.

The chickens were right where we left them in the care of our friend Laurie. Lila, the lavender orpington, has grown from a pullet into a hefty hen. 

Al of this was lovely and welcoming, but when I walked into the house my first thought was, “Why do we have all this stuff?” After living quite happily in a two-room casita in Tucson I suddenly realized that having an eight-room house only encourages the accumulation of unnecessary things.

I’m going to tackle the job of downsizing just as soon as I catch up on preparing our tax return, seeing the dentist, audiologist, rheumatologist, and optometrist, and getting a good haircut. The risk, of course, is that I will become accustomed once again to having too much stuff and just ignore it all. That has happened before. Amidst the routine of everyday living it's all too easy to lose sight of worthwhile goals.

Copyright 2016 by Shirley Domer